COLUMBIA — As more than 600 swimmers converge on Columbia to participate in this weekend’s Missouri Grand Prix, two MU swimmers are hoping to rise above the pack.
Junior Lori Halvorson, the women’s team co-captain, and sophomore Colleen Gordon will both be looking to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials in “the first long course meet of the year that everyone will be gearing up for,” coach Brian Hoffer said.
Neither swimmer will be helped by the team’s practice schedule. The team will not begin to lighten its practice load for another week.
“It’s not really our focus meet,” Hoffer said. “We’d love to have our people swim fast, but our meet is the Big 12. We’re not going to shave for it. We want them to be at their best for the Big 12.”
Both Halvorson and Gordon, though, said the meet’s atmosphere would more than make up for their tough training schedule.
“I don’t start tapering until about 10 days from conference, but you usually swim faster with lots of fast people around you,” Halvorson said. “The excitement will drive people to swim faster, even though they’re not tapering.”
Gordon, a distance swimmer who will swim the 400 freestyle, 200 IM and 100 butterfly at the Grand Prix, also is hoping to qualify for the NCAA championships.
“I’m hoping to knock both out this weekend,” she said. “I’m a strong dual meet swimmer, and I don’t taper much anyway because I’m a distance swimmer. I think the atmosphere will help me swim a lot faster.”
Gordon is within one second of both the 400 freestyle and 100 butterfly trials cuts. Halvorson has already qualified for the 200 freestyle and will be looking to qualify for the trials in the 200 IM at the Grand Prix.
Both swimmers will be helped in their quest by a strong background in big meets. Gordon, who last year was named newcomer of the year by the MU women’s swim team, swam in the Senior Nationals while in high school. Halvorson has placed in the top 10 at the Big 12 Conference meet in both her years at MU and, while a high school student, participated in the U.S. Open, Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals.
“I’ve seen the same people before at meets, so I’m not in awe of them,” Gordon said. “At least, not as much as younger athletes may be. Because the competition is so much greater than at conference, it helps you prepare mentally and make any last minute racing touch-ups.”
Halvorson also swam the 200 IM at last year’s Grand Prix after returning from the conference meet and remains a half-second from the trials qualifying time.
Hoffer said a couple of his other swimmers have a chance to qualify for the trials, but after those two, he “just doesn’t know” what will happen. But he was optimistic his swimmers would stack up well with some of the best swimmers in the country.
“The swimming world will be watching Columbia this weekend, and that’s really cool,” Hoffer said. “We hopefully can add a hometown flavor and get people back for a second swim.”